His journey was inspiring. His presence is commanding. His competence was reassuring. And none of this was even most impressive about the man and his time in office. He was the best president this country has ever seen.
That, however, is no compliment.
If ever a president lead America in the most American way possible, Barack Hussein Obama was that man. A brilliant orator from humble beginnings whose meteoric political rise forever changed history, every aspect of Obama’s story and public persona was like a page out of the American dream handbook. He was built for this shit.
Obama ruled this empire employing the same racist, tyrannical, murderous tactics here and abroad as his predecessors while convincing much of the American public that he was different. And no faction of his constituency was more easily, more willingly, more collectively convinced that Obama was a different kind of president than Black people. No portion of the U.S. citizenry pledged its loyalty to and deified the Obamas like Black people, all while Obama and his First Lady have engaged in and spewed the damning rhetoric of anti-Blackness.
Like in 2014 when Black folks’ beloved first Black president stood before Black Chicagoans and urged them to “find Cousin Pookie” who was sitting on the couch and hadn’t voted in five years and “tell him to go vote.” Yes, the people’s champ stood before a group representing his most loyal voting block, Black folks who had voted for him at a nearly unanimous 93% two years prior, that the onus was on us to drag our lazy family to the polls for mid-term elections to get him the democratic Congress he needed. Meanwhile, no word on Obama standing before a roomful of white Americans lambasting them about doing their part to end voter suppression.
Or remember when Michelle Obama famously quipped that “when they go low, we go high” to wild applause as a response to racist propaganda? The “forever First Lady” was lauded for promoting grace and class in the face of disgustingly violent racism, the kind which marred her husband’s entire presidency and from which not even her minor children had been spared. Black Americans were starry-eyed at Mrs. Obama’s ability to maintain herself and commit to enduring racist abuse with poise, as if encouraging victims of racism to be the bigger persons is some revolutionary act and not the kind of bullshit America has tried to brainwash us to accept for 4 years.
But in 2015, her husband did not offer Black teens in Baltimore rioting to protest the murder of Freddie Gray that grace. He did not go high with them and be clear that I do not think tearing down a city that doesn’t give a fuck about you is going low – instead unabashedly calling them “thugs” and doubling down on the term when called to task for it. Perhaps though, by the end of his two-term historic presidency, one made possible by Black voters in cities like Baltimore, he had adopted his wife’s policy of going high when he responded to white supremacists violent rioting in Charlottesville, VA. That violence only warranted a tweet of a Mandela quote assuring us that “no one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…”
Barack Obama has no smoke for white supremacy. Maybe that Flint water he sipped to convince the most Black residents of the city which intentionally poisoned the water supply that the water that was making them ill was safe softened him up on thugs.
And now, Mrs. Obama, whose husband did nothing to earn, groom or show his appreciation for the loyalty of Black voters, is disappointed in Black people. The woman who counts George W. Bush among her best friends can “understand people who voted for Trump,” but believes that Barack Obama “didn’t get the Congress he needed” because “our folks didn’t show up.” Never mind that our folks showed up and showed out for her husband twice.
Yet, Black people still collectively refuse to recognize the Obamas as who they are: members of the oligarchy fully protected from the fatal dangers of anti-Blackness that the Black collective is subject to. Even further, Black people required nothing of the Obamas in exchange for our loyalty.
We did not require evidence of a commitment to our interests. We did not demand that Obama outline a specific Black agenda. We have not insisted that they confront white America over racism. We do not pay them the dust they’ve paid us and instead rush to their defense anytime they are rightfully criticized.
The Obamas are not ours, Black people. We do not owe them anything and as they have made clear, they feel no indebtedness to us. We are not the same. Brown skin and a playlist with some hip hop do not make them our people.
Let them go. Barack and Michelle Obama do not care about us. They are not interested in reciprocating our love. They have no incentive to ride for us the way we ride for them. They do not fuck with us.
And the sooner we abandon this unearned adoration we have for them and stop idolizing them and stop ignoring the fact that Obama sang a little Al Green and paraded his brown-skinned wife with the Black girl booty in front of us because he like Biden, Clinton and all the others believe that the Black populace needs nothing more than simple engagement in well-known pieces of our culture to earn our loyalty, the sooner we can understand that Black folks can’t be good for us and them at the same time. And whenever the Obamas are presented with the choice to serve Black people or white people, they make their choice crystal clear.